Mike Parr, who certainly ranks among today’s most extreme performance artists, has chosen an only seemingly innocent title for his major retrospective in Vienna. For him, Edelweiß not only refers to the alpine flower, which may symbolize a positive relationship to Austria as one’s home country, but also reveals itself as an ambiguous play on words: while the German name suggests “edler Weißer” (noble white man) and “reines Weiß” (pure white), the English Edelweiß evokes the phonetically similar “ideal/idle vice” or “idol/vise.” The artist’s critical examination focuses on the ideological heritage of Modernism. Parr voices a fundamental doubt about exclusive concepts of identity and models of thinking and regards art as a possibility of shifting the point of view.
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